ONCE UPON A TIME

Once upon a time there was a guy who became addicted to internet pornography. It was a gradual process, first exploring out of curiosity, then more out of desire and the need for satisfaction he “sampled all her killing store” to borrow a line from A.E. Housman in his aptly named poem, “Terrance This is Stupid Stuff”. (cause this definitely WAS stupid stuff) Nothing serious, this guy believed, as he continued to peer more and more. Nothing he couldn’t control he reasoned. Nothing he wanted to share he decided.

So the secret loomed. It grew. The darkness inside him grew. His ego, arrogance and sense of entitlement grew as well as he fed his growing addiction which he easily justified in his mind as he searched for acknowledgment and sense of worth from others. Chat rooms, which were
relatively new at the time, played right into his realm and he flourished there. It was supposed to be fantasy, but it was in this so called make believe but oh so real world that he found what felt like true acceptance. Behind the veil of the monitor he was accepted, loved, even idolized by unseen women who actually wanted him and said they needed him to talk with them. What could be wrong with this simple yet fulfilling diversion from life’s dreariness and relational problems? If someone gave him an
attitude or rejected his advances, there was always the block key and thousands of others who seemed to desire him unlike the one he chose as wife some twenty years earlier.

So he continued, addicted to the “high” he received and learned to long for, despite short stints of abstinence. He couldn’t rely on others who might try and stop him; he could only rely on himself. After all, he was in control. Women responded or not, and he viewed them not as people but agents of fulfillment with no real personality or life other than to please him. This attitude spilled over into his real life, how could it not? It was a train wreck waiting to happen, and was only a matter of time til his recklessness of chatting with any respondent would get him into trouble. The “winner” was a supposed under age teen who met all the requirements – interest in him and desire to talk to him and arouse him – but in reality was part of a sting operation. As the old adage says, “he bit hook, line and sinker” sacrificing his whole world as he knew it. He couldn’t control things his way as he had thought. It wouldn’t stay hidden, in the dark. Was it fair? Was it right?

Would this virtual fairy tale have a happy ending? How could it?

Since I am “that guy” , I will tell you the journey through inside corrections and how it unfolded.

IN THE BEGINNING…

in the beginning…..

One can go either way when you hit the crossroad between good and evil, right and wrong, up or down, life or death. What makes one chose that one? Why is it sometimes so clear? Is there any way of knowing, of feeling the best answer ahead of time?

A crisis seems to bring out these black and white situations, making them clearer to see when exposed in our busy daily lives. A sickness, prognosis, incarceration, death, some fall from a pedestal which knocks us into a survival – or not – mode where decisions can become crystal clear. What makes for such a difference in people?

I maintain it is the hope the Holy Spirit brings, if we can embrace it. I feel it is there in us, waiting for us to act on it in any way we chose, hopefully in a manner befitting its pressure and urging. Some feel it as a grip in the stomach. Some call it their conscience talking to them. Some may even hear voices.

From whence does this hope arise? From the very core of our being, from life itself, from the beginning of creation by God I maintain, manifested in His son Jesus, who carried our sins to the cross to set us free. It has a home in all believers, awaiting its opportunity to shine forth and carry us toward the light, away from the darkness that could engulf us, just as a shoot pushes up from the deep, dark soil to the sun.

Not all seeds germinate, choosing to stay beneath the surface in darkness, struggle free, dying, never to experience the light, true bliss and life. Some grow but then wither when struggles, tests or hardships develop. I do not feel it is so much God allowing it as it simply is a matter of having free choice and a result of consequences. (This is aptly described in Jesus’ parable of the sower in Luke 8:5-8.) So too, not all people get it the first time and need to understand their need, because of their sin, for Jesus Christ to save them, not just someone or something.

Then why do some still choose the darkness while others come to the light? Good question. From my experience it is very easy to, when faced with overwhelming odds, trials, tragedy or adversity to choose darkness.

This is the story of why I chose light, which, while not easy, enabled me to work with the hope God and his son Jesus gave me.

WHEN DID IT BECOME OKAY TO BREAK THE LAW?

     When did it become okay to break the law? And who decides what laws we can break and when? Are there no consequences for that?

     I know that if I drive over the speed limit down the thruway and get caught I get a ticket. Or if I do not have enough money at the store and decide to take a five finger discount I run the risk of fines, arrest and possibly imprisonment. It’s all on my shoulders, something I have to decide and weigh the risk/reward factors.

     I could blame the policeman for not allowing me my freedom to feel the speed and get to my desired destination quickly, without putting up with all those slowpokes on the road. Or I could get angry at the store clerk for their lack of empathy or understanding of my situation and not bend the rules in my case – which of course I deem as special since it involves me. I might even take to the streets and protest the absurdity of regulations that I overlooked to get in this pickle and rant and rave till I was blue in the face. (I could only do this if they didn’t put me behind bars for my lawlessness) But I digress.

     Times have changed. There are new gadgets, new ideas and I definitely guess I am not keeping up with new slang, terminology and abbreviations among other things. I do have a new appreciation for truth and law, especially since I have been on the wrong side of it and paid a dear price. I found I could not “lean on my own understanding” of the law and needed to “Trust in the Lord with all my heart…..and He will direct my path” (Prov. 3:5-6). I found I could not do whatever I wanted and not pay the piper when breaking the law, even when I didn’t know the laws. I guess in the back of my mind I knew it was only a matter of time till I got caught. After all, it is called a rule or law because that is what we as citizens of this great country are supposed to follow if we want to continue living free here. If we break the law, knowingly or unknowingly, we face consequences. The bigger the crime, the worse the punishment. Colleagues in my new state home told me an oft repeated phrase: “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”

     So as I asked in the beginning, when did it become okay to break the law? And who decides what laws we can break and when? Is the term illegal now meaning something else? Does it not mean, as defined in most dictionaries, illegitimate, prohibited, unlawful, criminal, dishonest or banned? Then why would anyone doing an illegal activity expect to get a free pass any more than someone NOT doing anything illegal, prohibited, unlawful, criminal, dishonest or banned? Maybe ask a mother against drunk drivers if they feel people who break the law should be given a free pass and allowed to drive on even if breaking the law. Or maybe that is one law we keep while ignoring others. But who decides? My decisions may well be different than yours and Joe down the street and Mary across town. Isn’t that why we have laws, so all will abide? Does it really make sense to pick and chose who and when to enforce such regulations?

     And if we do not like a law or ordinance, then we are told to work to change it, not blatantly break it because we do not like it. In most cases there is a procedure for such change and guidance for us to follow in helping that change occur. Of course it will never happen fast enough for us, but it is still the law until it is changed.

     People in this country right now illegally seem to want to get a free pass because of familial reasons, employment situations, problems back home, or you fill in the blank. They did something – came into this country – knowing it was against the law, illegal, prohibited, unlawful, criminal, dishonest and banned and now want all of us to forget that and look the other way.

     I am not saying I do not feel sorry for some of them just as many of my family and friends felt sorry for me as I was led away in handcuffs for 2 1/3 to 7. But I broke the law, did something illegal, prohibited, unlawful, criminal, dishonest and banned and had to face the consequences even though I did not want to. It cost me my wife, home, and business, all due to my actions which I finally had to claim even though I initially rationalized, minimized and justified everything. The responsibility was completely mine though the consequences affected many others even to this day.

     So I guess to answer my own question it is not okay to break the law. Lord willing I do not do it again nor either will you. The Almighty has made us for more than breaking laws. We need to stop putting our wants and ourselves ahead, even at the expense, of others, and do “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest … just … pure … lovely … are of good report …” (Phil. 4:8)

     May it be so.